The state government had extended the subsidy of Rs 200 per quintal for onion farmers who had suffered financial distress due to fall in prices.
Onion growers in Maharashtra are seeking pending dues of the onion grant given by the state government after prices had witnessed a major downslide in the previous season.
The government had approved a grant of Rs 200 per quintal (up to a maximum of 200 quintals) to onion growers in Maharashtra in December 2018 for the period November 1, 2018 to December 15, 2018.
“Around Rs 199.54 crore worth subsidy granted to some 1,91,115 onion growers from 17 APMCs in Nashik district for the period December 16, 2018 to February 28, 2019 is still pending with the government. In Lasalgaon alone, Rs 34.44 crore of 30,594 beneficiaries remains unpaid,” said Jaydutt Holkar, chairman, Lasalgaon Agriculture Produce Committee (APMC).
The state government had extended the subsidy of Rs 200 per quintal for onion farmers who had suffered financial distress due to fall in prices. Farmers who had sold their crop between November 1 and December 15 were eligible for the subsidy, with individual quantity being capped at 200 quintal. The subsidy was later extended till April 15. The downslide in onion prices last year had placed onion growers in financial distress.
The government had then given a grant of Rs 200 per quintal and the subsidy was applied for the onion sold in November, December, January and also February.
In the first phase from November, 71,437 onion growers were considered eligible for the grant. The government had allocated Rs 54.14 crore. Of this, Rs 53.73 crore has been disbursed in farmer bank accounts. Significantly, a large quantity of onion was sold in the second phase of February and the government had therefore extended the deadline to March 31 for the subsidy. In the second phase, some 1.98 lakh applications have been received by the district administration. Out of these, 65,284 applications have been processed.
Holkar said that the subsidy of the second phase is yet to be granted. With the kharif season in full swing, onion growers now require funds for sowing operations, purchase of seeds and fertilisers. Therefore, the government should take a sympathetic view and release the pending subsidy dues, he said.
At present, the Nashik District Cooperative Bank is in financial trouble and therefore farmers are not getting credit. Since the government has already allocated funds, they should be released quickly, he added.
Onion prices are currently on the upward trend with modal prices in the range of Rs 1,350 per quintal with arrivals reported at nearly 12,000 quintals. The arrival of onions in the market has dropped with farmers preparing for the kharif season. The farmers who need money for kharif sowing are bringing their produce to the market since onion is fetching good rates. Holkar said that the new season should be good for onion growers since prices were high.
Farmers prefer storing the good quality summer onions in the hope of getting better prices later. The prices started increasing last month after the National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (Nafed) started onion procurement from the district.
In the past one month, the average wholesale price has increased by Rs400 per quintal. Nafed has a target of 50,000 tonne of which the procurement of 30,000 tonne has already been met. An additional quota of 10,000 tonne had been given to MahaFPC — the apex body of farmer producer companies in Maharashtra.